December, how sweet the sound.

December 28th, it is almost gone, the sweetest month of all.  I shall miss the sound, the smells and the anticipation of the holiest of holidays and my most favorite time of year.  I shall mourn your passing until I can again count the days until your arrival.  December, sweet December.  Thank you.


Tidings of Comfort And Joy. . . A Sweet and Unexpected gift

So Christmas Eve came and all I had asked for was slippers.  That's all I ever want every year, that and if my camera is out of whack I ask for a new one. I can't live without a camera.  Anyway, I asked for comfortable slippers.  Both my sons gave me slippers.  I loved both.  They are both equally comfortable and lovely to look at.  What more can a girl ask for?
I'm not a jewelry person.  I do love shiny costume jewelry that shines and glitters but wouldn't pay more than 40 dollars for it.  I enjoy shopping for clothes at Forever 21 or the Gap or Sears Lands End.  I like comfortable things.  I love home decor but I have no more room for anything else.  And we built the study this fall and I probably won't be able to buy another thing for the house before I'm 70 so I am set for a long time.  Anyway, I wasn't expecting anything else.  Didn't need or desire anything else.  Just Peace.
Well my husband handed me a box.  A beautiful box.  One of those painted boxes with lovely christmas flowers and birds on it, too beautiful to open.  When I opened it I found this wrapped in tissue paper.

I found these three beautiful books.  Three volumes with my name on it.  It was my BLOG.
I had to struggle to hold back my tears (which by the way came back to me on Christmas Eve - My Christmas gift from God, allowing me to cry again.  I hadn't cried in over 8 months.)
My blog, the blog I write in everyday, love, vent in, create in, get lost in.  My husband had listened to me talk about wanting to have a legacy, leaving something my sons could have for years and years after I'm gone.  Well now they will have an almost daily journal of our lives.  They will get to know me, the silly me, the deep me, the creative me, the mother in me, designer, writer, sentimental and jerky me.
I could not have asked for a better more beautiful and kind gift.  Nor could I ask for a better husband.
I can't stop looking at my blog books.  They have documentation since 2008 until present.
He also promised me that every year he'll add another volume.
Ladies, tell your husbands about this or do it for yourselves.  I can't tell you how beautiful they are and how amazing it is too look back and read my life in this book.  I have logged trips, recipes, experiences, graduations, birthdays, death and joy in these pages.  They are all here for me to keep and cherish.
I know that so many of you have such incredible blogs, think about it.  You will cherish them too.



1973, Christmas morning.  I was 8year old.  I have about 6 photos of me on Christmas morning.  It's so bizzarre.  I take photos for everything even when there is no occasion to take photos I take them.  And I have to rummage through every album and shoe box to come up with 6.  Most of them are blurry and out of focus and the one that I truly wanted is missing.  I had used it a few years ago for a Christmas card and I guess I didn't put it back and now it's gone.  I know it wasn't because my parents didn't want to take photos, it was just a different time.  Not the digital revolution that we have all been spoiled with.  Now people don't even take a second to marvel at, in my opinion, the greatest invention ever.  A photograph.  Have you thought of it as much as I have?  Seriously.  How a flash can capture an image forever and display it in a milisecond.  Magical!  Miraculous!  Awe worthy.  What makes it so special to me is that life is constantly stealing from us.  It's stealing our time, our age, life is moving and changing and the people we most hold dear at some point must go as well.  But through this miraculous wonder, we are able to steal something back.  Something that we can hold on to even long after the moment, and the person are gone.  Although I can no longer see my father in person or hear his voice, I can see him in my photographs.  I can't go back to when I was 8 but I have a precious glimpse of a moment, a moment where I was happy.  Truly happy.  (Although I look like I had been sipping too much egg nog)
Take photos, take of your family, of your home, of your dogs, of your tree.  Create memories so that you may leave something behind.
I can't go back to 1973, although deep down I wish I could.  But I can document today and the next day for me to look back on and remember when my mind will need a bit of help, or for my children so that they can show their children.
1972, me and my cat.  (Don't remember his name)

Wishes for Christmas Eve
I wish that we can look beyond the presents and appreciate the holiest of nights for what it is alone.
I wish that we can find a moment to pray.  Yes pray and give thanks for what we have.
I wish that we can feel the excitement that I obviously felt in these photos, that of a young child.
And above all, I pray for peace.  Peace in my home, peace in my heart and my families.  I pray for peace in your home and families and heart as well.
Merry Christmas.


The Bookshelves are in. . .

Rob just started putting his books in them.  He has so many, I don't know if they will all fit when he's done.  But for now I decided not to wait and take some photos.
 I have little wreaths on each valence.  Can you see them?
I managed to sneak in two christmas trees.  Can you see them?  Hee Hee.
Do you see that picture on the bottom shelf?  I bought that about 4 years ago in an old shop for about 8 dollars.  It's a painting of "The Hunt" Dogs and men on horseback sporting there equestirian red blazers.  I loved it and thought, someday, maybe I will have a study to put it in.

I love the color of the couch, it is exactly the green I wanted.  It reminds me of Christmas.


Being Overshadowed

 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

Have you ever had the privilege to sit in an empty church?  I have, many times.  Growing up in a Franciscan community, working as the parish receptionist as a teenager and involved with our youth group enabled me to have many opportunities to rest in the silence of an empty church.  It is a luxury that few of us have experienced.  But I can say that I have.  Today our priest/pastor talked about the annunciation in his homily/sermon.  His theme was "to be overshadowed by God."
When someone overshadows someone they completely block out the other.  Mary allowed God to do that, so she became engulfed by his presence.  He then completed his homily by saying "let us allow him to overshadow us."
There are moments when I can't handle anymore of what the day holds, whether it is stress over a situation or being consumed with worry for my son's, mother etc. . . If you have ever gone through anything intense and have been distracted for a second, a fleeting moment, loosing focus on what is stressful and worrisome?  For those few seconds that you have laughed or smiled and forgotten it is totally a freeing experience.  That moment of freedom is true peace.  I think that allowing God to take over and overshadow us is that of finding true peace in the freedom of letting go.  That is why I love a silent house, or a moment of silence, I try to clear my head and realize now that what I was trying to do was what Fr. Birch was talking about today.  Allowing God to Overshadow us.  As we get older its harder and harder to do.  To be still can sometimes be the most impossible task.  
Amy Grant's Christmas song "I need a silent night" is about just that.  
"I need a silent night
A Holy Night
To hear the angels voice
Through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear
A little peace right here
To end this crazy day, with a silent night."
 This Christmas and holiday season, I pray you find time to Allow God to overshadow you so that you may feel his presence in the silence and you may find rest from what worries you.  That is all I want for Christmas and what I wish for all my loved ones.  


What Makes It Christmas For Me. . .

Christmas is more than a day or a month.  It is more than a date on the liturgical calendar.  It is a frame of mind.  It is very easy to allow life to diminish the "feeling of Christmas."  We might have lost loved ones, or maybe we are going through problems within our family, or financial problems, whatever it might be, it is easy to slip away from what it's all about.
I have a few things that help me remain positive and excited and in tune with the beauty and magical existance, that is of Christmas.    It is my most favorite time of the year.  I cherish it.  When we bought our house one of the determining buying factors was how beautiful it would look at Christmastime.
It is the season where I most feel God.
These are a few things that help me get into the presence of Christmas.
(Remember these are my daily reminders, some are silly and some are just part of my growing up and what I was used to.  Adjust the list according to your taste.  Hee Hee)
l. Any Starbucks Christmas concoction.  It looks beautiful, tastes devine and has tons of whip cream.
   I've learned that in life, any warm drink topped off with whip cream will automatically lift your spirits.
2. Winterberries.  Any kind.  I'm obsessed with them.  Has three bushes planted two years ago and the
     darn deer have eaten them and left them dry.  So upset I don't have my own.  I use them for cuttings
    in my garland and arrangements.  They just yell Christmas.
3. Home made Christmas cookies.  In my home, it is not christmas unless you have been baking since
    Thanksgiving.  I bake and give away, and eat one every day.  My home smells heavenly and my
    son's appreciate it.  They have become cookie snobs.  Whenever they see that someone brought us
    store bought Christmas cookies, they look at one another and chuckle quietly.  As if they are trying to
    say, "Really, store bought, our mom makes them from scratch."  It's rewarding to hear that.
4. I have to watch Christmas movies at night.  We used to watch them all together but now I can't
    compete with football and hockey games on tv so I try to watch one each night.  My favorite are the
    classics.  Although Meet Me In St. Louis isn't exactly a holiday film, who can resist when Judy
   Garland sings "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" out the window of that amazing old home.
   I always have to watch Miracle on 34th, Christmas Story, Little Women and It's a Wonderful Life.
   Lifetime and Hallmark have lovely ones as well.  Take time to enjoy them.
5. Fresh greens.  If you say you don't need them it's because you've never had fresh greens in your
   home.  Try it.  The look, feel, smell is irreplaceable.
6. James Taylor's Christmas Album, need a say more.  My favorite holday music and my favorite voice.
7.Winter itself, with a touch of snow just enough to turn everything magical.
8. If I can't have my Holiday Punch every day, its Cranberry Gingerale, the greatest invention since Pez.
9. Fresh cut wood, burning in your fireplace.  The smell when I am outside at night walking my dogs is
    so wonderful.
10. Any Christmas scented candles and soaps.  Williams & Sonoma has a lovely Winter Forest.  To die
     for.  Anything Balsam & Ceder smelling.
11.Correspondence, mail, real Christmas cards in my mailbox. Not an email but a real card. Love it.
12. Santa, what he stands for, himself.  I adore him.  He is St Nicholas and he brings me comfort and
     joy, although I can't look at an authentic santa without tearing up.  Always, since I was young.
     Love him so much.  In my house, we believe, I shall always believe.  A friend asked me the other day
    what age did I tell me kids.  I said "tell them what?"  I have never ever said anything to my sons.  My
    sons are 21 and soon to be 16.  I told them I believe, you choose.  That was all I said.  Done.  We've
    never spoken on the subject again.
13. A real tree.
14. Entertaining, my yearly Christmas Party where we sing for hours our favorite carols.  And being
     around my family and best friends along with good food and song.
15. Matt's playing.  He plays the piano everyday.  I love when he plays Christmas music.  It fills our
     home with peace.
16. Praying.  Everyday, as much as possible.


How Sweet The Sound. . .

My son Matt is in the chorus at his prep school.  The other night we had the Christmas concert to go to.  It had been a long day for me and had a lot of complications throughout the day.  By five oclock in the evening when it was time to drop off my son for practice before the event later that evening, I was exhausted.  Needless to say when I returned home, trying to speed down a dark congested highway that I am deathly afraid of, I was ready for bed.  As soon as my husband arrived we got in the car and raced back to the school.
All I can say is that I am so very thankful that I went.  It was an incredible night.  The orchestra was incredible.  Even Radio City Music Hall and all of it's glory could not have dimmed the light these young musicians and singers brought into that chapel.  My son, being one of them.  I was so proud.  Here are a few pics of the night.
The chapel was adorned with poinsettias donated from the mom's in remembrance of a loved one.  One of the red ones is for my dad.  It was so beautiful.
These are the boys from Holy Ghost Prep.
My Matthew is behind the Microphone on the top row.
 This is the beautiful chapel, the home of the spiritan priests.

My son's photos were all behind the microphone, but I could hear his voice in my heart.


Repeat the Sounding Joy . . .

So My Christmas Extravaganza was a success!  I have always been obsessed with Christmas specials growing up.  I would watch Bing Crosby's, Bob Hopes, Barbra Mandrell and the Mandrell sisters, and the list goes on.  In my mind, (I know your thinking she's crazy) I have always imagined having one.  I know how I would start it off too, outside in the snow.  My son is about to graduate from college as a film editor and cameraman, and someday, when he's in a good mood and needs money I'm going to get him to film one for me I know it.  But until then, my yearly Christmas Caroling Extravaganza is the closest thing.  Here's a peek!

Repeat the sounding joy, a line I sing often in my head.  If only the moments that warmed are hearts could stay forever repeating over and over to remind us of when we are at our happiest.  This is how I feel when I'm with the people I love.  Let these images stay forever in my mind and heart. 
"Repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy, repeat repeat the soun- ding joy."

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